who's to blame

Someone got injured – who’s to blame?

Where there’s blame there’s a claim, right?


In my day, if you fell down you got back up – you didn’t try to sue the tree whose stick you just tripped over.

Times change – and there’s also this thing called common sense.

If you have a company that uses dangerous machines, you have to keep your workers safe. Your workers, in turn, have to be sensible and follow the safety briefings.

It sounds simple, but unfortunately accidents happen – especially on construction sites – so who’s to blame? Let’s break down the legal ramifications shall we?

▪ The Client (usually the Land Owner)

A commercial client is any individual or organisation that carries out a construction project as part of a business.

They have a major influence over the way their project is procured and managed. Regardless of the size of the project, the client has contractual control, appoints those required to carry out the work – designers and contractors – and determines the money, time and other resources available. Because of this, Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 makes a commercial client accountable for the impact their decisions and approach have on health, safety and welfare on their project.

The commercial client will continue to have responsibility for health and safety issues that arise from the maintenance and use of the building after construction work is finished. This responsibility continues until the client disposes of their interest in the building.

▪ The Principal Contractor 

This is the contractor who is appointed by the client to control the construction phase of the project that involves more than one contractor. They have an important role in managing health and safety risks during the construction phase. Along with other duties, they must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate the entire construction phase including H&S, welfare, access, liaising and appointing competent people/ companies.

▪ The Sub Contractor

A person or company hired by the principal contractor to perform specific tasks as part of the overall construction project. They have an important role in planning, managing and monitoring the work (in liaison with the principal contractor where there is more than one contractor) to ensure risks are properly controlled.

They must be able to demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge, experience and capability to carry out the work safely and without risk to health.
A contractor is an organisation or individual who directly employs or engages construction workers or as part of their business carries out, manages or controls construction work (e.g. building, altering, maintaining or demolishing).  Contractors include sub-contractors, any individual, sole trader or self-employed workers.

▪ Designers (Architects and Engineers)

It will depend on the contract, but generally they are an organisation or individual whose work involves preparing or modifying designs for construction projects, or arranging for, or instructing, others to do this. Designers can be architects, consulting engineers and quantity surveyors, or anyone who specifies and alters designs as part of their work.

A designer has a strong influence, particularly during the very early planning and design stages of a project. Their decisions can affect the health and safety of not only those contractors and workers carrying out the construction work, but those who use, maintain, repair, clean, refurbish and eventually demolish a building.  Decisions such as selecting materials or components of a building can avoid, reduce or control risks involved in constructing a building and maintaining and using it after it is built.

▪ Equipment Manufacturers

They must take full responsibility for the machine parts working properly. It follows that if something bad happens to someone because the machines that he or she was using were malfunctioning, then that company will be prosecuted and charged.


Prevention is always better than cure in our opinion – if we can help you with compliance and health and safety measures in your company, give us a call:

01224 900025



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